No position is more unpredictable in fantasy football than kickers. Year after year after year, no position has a lower correlation between where they're drafted before the season and where they finish after the season. No position has a lower correlation between how they score in one week and how they score in the next. No position has a lower correlation between projected points and actual points.
In addition, placekicker is the position that has the smallest spread between the best players and the middle-of-the-pack players for fantasy. Finally, most fantasy GMs will only carry one kicker at a time, which means there are a dozen or more starting kickers sitting around on waivers at any given time. Given all of this, it rarely makes sense to devote resources to the position. Instead, GMs are best served by rotating through whichever available kicker has the best weekly matchup.
Every week, I'll rank the situations each kicker finds himself in (ignoring the talent of the kicker himself) to help you find perfectly startable production off the waiver wire.
Week 8 Results
Ryan Succop (4 FG attempts, 4 FGs, 1 XP, 13 points)
Tampa went for a two-point conversion halfway through the third quarter (earlier than most charts would recommend), which was the only thing that stood between our top recommended kicker and the top performance of the week (his 13 points instead ranked 2nd). Last week I mentioned Succop along with Mike Badgley and Jason Myers as potential off-ramps if you ever get tired of streaming; largely unrostered kickers tied to suddenly explosive offenses who make promising weekly starters going forward, and I wanted to reiterate that now. If they keep playing as they have been, they'll soon be rostered in too many leagues for me to keep using them in this space every week. But that doesn't mean you can't hold them and keep using them going forward.
Cody Parkey (3 FG attempts, 2 FGs, 0 XPs, 6 points)
The reason I believe so strongly in accountability is because, if left to my own devices, it's easy to explain away every bad break with the benefit of hindsight. For instance, because the point of this column is getting kickers off of waivers, we publish every Tuesday. Between Tuesday and Sunday, late-onset wind concerns dropped the over/under in the Cleveland / Las Vegas game by 8 points and dropped Cleveland's projected edge from -3.5 to -1. This combination led to a 20% expected drop in Parkey's scoring, which would have left him as a "neutral play" on the week. So there's a temptation to say that his pedestrian 6-point outing isn't really on the model. Except the kicker on the other sideline during this game still ranked 6th on the week, if Parkey had made a 37-yard field goal he would have ranked 7th, and if Parkey had been a neutral play the next recommendation would have been Robbie Gould, who only scored 3 points. And besides, 6 points wasn't a terrible showing in a very rough week for kickers overall; only 12 kickers scored more. So much as I'd like to come up with excuses after the fact, Parkey demonstrates exactly why I don't allow myself to do so. If the process is sound (and I believe mine is), the outcomes will reflect that over a large enough sample without any need for me to put my thumb on the scale.
Jason Myers (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 4 XPs, 7 points)
I've been saying for weeks that Seattle's offense would eventually stop scoring so many touchdowns and start settling for more field goals. It has moved in that direction a little bit, but is still reaching the end zone a disproportionate share of the time. But with an offense this prolific, it's not a huge issue; Myers missed an extra point and still ranked 9th for the week.
Jake Elliott (0 FG attempts, 0 FGs, 1 XPs, 1 point)
Elliott was on the receiving end of a genuine bad beat this week, as Philadelphia turned the ball over four times (though one of them came on fourth down anyway), ending most of their promising drives. Additionally, they surprisingly went for a pair of two-point conversions, costing Elliott another two potential points. The result was just one point and a 27th-place showing.
Joey Slye (1 FG attempt, 1 FG, 2 XPs, 5 points)
A hot Carolina offense has cooled considerably in recent weeks, and even a game against a bad Atlanta Falcons defense couldn't get them right again. Victims of a slow pace, Carolina only had eight drives against the Falcons and only scored on three of them. Slye ranked 16th among kickers.
Results To Date
To date, Rent-a-Kicker has made 40 weekly recommendations. Those 40 kickers have averaged 7.43 points, compared to last year's 7.65 weekly average. That average would currently rank 12th at the position. Our top weekly recommendation averages 7.75 points, which would rank 10th, and the average of all highlighted kickers with great matchups is 7.96, which would rank 9th.
The top 12 kickers by preseason ADP were Justin Tucker* (72 points), Harrison Butker (63 points), Wil Lutz* (75 points), Greg Zuerlein (53 points), Robbie Gould (52 points), Matt Gay (cut before the season), Zane Gonzalez (60 points), Younghoe Koo (71 points), Matt Prater* (62 points), Dan Bailey* (40 points), Jake Elliott (36 points), and Ka'imi Fairbairn (59 points) (giving an extra seven points to any kicker who has had his bye). Despite the extra draft capital expenditure, only three of these kickers have outperformed the average of our highlighted "Great Plays"... and one of those three (Koo) has been cut in enough leagues since the season started that he's actually a Rent-a-Kicker alum.
Excluding Gay, the remaining kickers average 58.4 points, which is nearly two full field goals less than the average of "Great Plays" that were available on waivers (63.7 points).
Week 9 Situations
**Since streaming kickers is so popular and rostered players can vary across leagues, here is a list of how favorable every kicker's situation is based on Vegas projected totals and stadium. Quality plays who are on waivers in over 50% of leagues based on NFL.com roster percentages are italicized and will be highlighted in next week's column. Also, note that these rankings are kicker-agnostic; teams will occasionally change kickers mid-week, but any endorsements apply equally to whatever kicker winds up eventually getting the start.**
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